TMT Comparative Guide

Published date17 June 2023
Subject MatterMedia, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment, Technology, IT and Internet, Mobile & Cable Communications, Broadcasting: Film, TV & Radio, Social Media, Security
Law FirmHerzog Fox & Neeman
AuthorMr Israel (Ruly) Ber

1 Legal and enforcement framework

1.1 Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern the following in your jurisdiction: (a) Telecommunications; (b) Internet; (c) Media and (d) Social media?

(a) Telecommunications

The main laws that govern the Israeli telecommunications sector are:

  • the Wireless Telegraph Ordinance, which deals mainly with the equipment itself (such as Internet of Things devices); and
  • the Communications Law (Telecommunications and Broadcasting) 1982 ('Telecoms Law'), which deals with the performance of telecommunication operations.

Various regulations have been promulgated in accordance with these laws; but due to their large number, they are not all listed here.

(b) Internet

There are currently no specific laws that govern the Internet in Israel. General legislation applies (eg, intellectual property, consumer protection, libel laws).

(c) Media

The main laws that govern the media sector include:

  • the Telecoms Law, which regulates cable and satellite broadcasting;
  • the Second Authority for Television and Radio Law, which regulates the commercial broadcast of television channels and local radio stations;
  • the Israeli Public Broadcasting Law, which regulates the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, comprised of two public broadcasting channels and a few national radio stations; and
  • the Knesset Channel Law, which regulates the operation of the designated channel broadcasting from the Israeli Parliament.

(d) Social media

There are currently no specific laws that govern the Internet in Israel. General legislation applies (eg, consumer protection, libel laws). The Ministry of Communication set up a committee to provide recommendations on the regulation of social media platforms. The committee issued a report setting out its recommendations, but no legislative steps have since been taken.

1.2 Which bodies are responsible for enforcing the applicable laws and regulations in the relevant sectors? What powers do they have?

The main body which is responsible for enforcing the applicable laws and regulations is the Ministry of Communications. It has a wide range of powers, including the power to:

  • revoke licences;
  • confiscate equipment;
  • impose administrative fines;
  • issue administrative notices; and
  • provide specific instructions regarding certain obligations (eg, investments in local productions, sanctions of time allotted to advertising).

1.3 What is the general approach of those bodies in regulating the relevant sectors?

In the telecoms sector, the main approach has recently changed following a process of 'de-regulation' effected by reforms to the Telecoms Law. The approach has shifted from a licensing regime to a general authorisation regime. In the words of the Ministry of Communications, regulation is now more 'ex-post' than 'ex-ante'.

In the media sector, regulation is still very specific and detailed. The regime includes provisions on matters such as:

  • content;
  • consumer protection; and
  • investments in local productions.

1.4 What other industry codes of conduct or best practices are applicable in the relevant sectors?

There are no specific codes of conduct or best practices that we can point to.

2 Ownership

2.1 Who is eligible to provide services in the following sectors in your jurisdiction? Are there any restrictions on foreign ownership? Do any domicile requirements apply? What other requirements or restrictions apply in this regard: (a) Telecommunications; (b) Internet; (c) Media and (d) Social media?

(a) Telecommunications

Following the recent reforms to the Telecoms Law, in order to provide telecoms services which are subject to a general permit and authorisation or licensing requirement, the service provider must be an Israeli company or a foreign company registered in Israel as such. There are currently no provisions regarding a minimum holding of means of control by an Israeli citizen or resident.

Cellular carriers which are operating in Israel under a licence that was granted before the recent reforms to the Telecoms Law are subject to an additional minimum holding requirement of at least 26% of the means of control of the licensee.

(b) Internet

No such requirements apply to entities that broadcast over the Internet. In relation to the provision of internet services, see question 2.1(a).

(c) Media

A licence for cable, satellite or commercial broadcasting is conditioned upon:

  • the applicant being either:
    • an Israeli citizen and resident; or
    • an Israeli company; and
  • at least 26% of the means of control being held by an Israeli citizen and resident. 'Means of control' are defined as:
    • the right to vote at the general meeting of the company;
    • the right to appoint a board member or its general manager;
    • the right to participate in the distribution of the company's gains; and
    • the right to participate in the distribution of the company's assets upon its dissolvement.

Additional requirements and considerations may apply when granting a licence. For example, a licence will not be granted if:

  • the applicant was convicted of a felony that may render it unfit to receive a licence; or
  • grant of the licence would be contrary to the public interest or endanger national security where:
    • the applicant is associated with a political party; or
    • the applicant or an entity possessing means of control of the applicant is a foreign government (exceptionally, the minister of communications can allow for an indirect possession of up to 10% of the means of control by a corporation in which a foreign government possesses some means of control).

Additional provisions aim to substantially limit cross-ownership of media sources.

(d) Social media

Currently no requirements apply to the operators of social media platforms.

3 Authorisations/licences

3.1 What authorisations and/or licences are required to operate in the following sectors? Do any exemptions apply? Do these vary depending on the service to be provided: (a) Telecommunications; (b) Internet; (c) Media and Social media?

(a) Telecommunications

According to the Telecoms Law, regulation is based on two frameworks, as follows.

Registration in the General Authorisations Registry: Registration applies to three types of services, to the extent that these are provided to the general public or part thereof (rather than to a specific entity) through a telecommunications network for the service provider's business-commercial purposes:

  • telephony services, including voice-only services if the origination or receipt of the calls involves numbering resources according to the national numbering plan;
  • internet access services - internet service providers (ISPs), internet infrastructure services or both, if they are provided for consideration; and
  • data transmission services.

Other services that may also fall within the scope of the registration requirement are services that will be included in the First Schedule to the Telecoms Law, as determined by the minister of communications and approved by the Israeli Parliament's Economics Committee.

Licensing: A licence for specific telecommunications services as set forth in the Telecoms Law is required...

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